Just an absolute madness day of college basketball. Hold onto your seats, and read below.
Key games for bracketology
Arizona State 69, Arizona 68
Can ASU still play themselves into this thing? Did we lead with this just so you might watch Des Cambridge’s 50-footer at the buzzer to win the most dramatic finish in major college basketball this season? Will we finally stop hearing about Tommy Lloyd’s home record on every broadcast?
An absolute stunner in the Territorial Cup, and now the Sun Devils are 20-9, 11-7 in the Pac-12, and 4-3 vs. Quad 1. They’re in the mix, and stealing one on the road from UCLA or USC over the last regular season weekend might just do the trick.
As for ‘Zona, this is less than ideal but merely a flesh wound. The ‘Cats entered the weekend as a No. 2 seed in most places, but probably drop a line with the loss. However any outside shot at a No. 1 is probably gone, even if they win out all the way through the Pac-12 final in Vegas.
Kentucky 86, Auburn 54
Bad news for fans of chaos: It looks like Kentucky has played their way into the NCAA Tournament. Congrats to all associated with that underdog, upstart program, but that’s four on the trot for the Cats, who have finally decided to give All-Interplanetary center Oscar Tshiebwe some help.
The Cats were 8-13 from three-point range, 14-15 at the free throw line, and held Aubie to just 34% from the floor. They’re now 6-7 vs. Quad 1, and as they entered the weekend as a No. 8 in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology projection, you could argue that even a loss at home to Vandy wouldn’t keep them out now.
As for Auburn, they’ve lost seven of their last ten, are just 2-7 vs. Quad 1 ... hey, uhh, Bruce Pearl? We know you like to tell on yourself and others, but your team is kind of telling on itself as of late. The Tigers are going to need some wins between now and Selection Sunday, and with Alabama and Tennessee the only regular season conference games, they better hope for an upset or a favorable draw in Nashville.
North Carolina 71, Virginia 64
Well looky here: UNC has a Quad 1 win! The tenth time is the charm!
And while that’s one-third as many Quad 1’s as Temple, and half as many as Loyola Marymount, it’s still probably (??) enough to put the Tar Heels on the right side of the line for now. Joe Lunardi had them as the first four out, but picking up a win over a team projected as a protected top-four seed is good.
If they can avoid an implosion a la Miami against Florida State, they’ll get another chance for a big win at home vs. Duke to close the regular season. The Heels might still need one more quality dub, but a loss today might have been a death knell.
UVA is still totally fine, as the biggest harm came to their chances to win a regular season ACC championship. But with Clemson and the putrid Louisville remaining, they look safe for a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament, and the double bye that comes with it.
Clemson 96, North Carolina State 71
Yes, the ACC is rather crap this year. Only Miami, Virginia, and Duke can start packing for the NCAA Tournament for sure, and a fourth bid for the league that has all the history and tradition but not many good wins this season might be elusive.
And then Clemson messed around and hung a 25-point stomping on the road for even more chaos. It’s a Quad 1 for the No. 74 in NET Tigers, but they are 6-2 vs. Quad 3, and 8-2 vs. Quad 4, so it might not be enough to get them back on the right side of things.
As for NC State, they fall to 3-6 vs. Quad 1, though they entered 36 in the NET and don’t have any bad losses. Pitt and North Carolina are also in the mix for that fourth (or maybe fifth??) bid, and this is a win the Wolfpack could have used. A victory at Duke on Tuesday might go a long way for Kevin Keatts and his team on March 12 at about 6 p.m. on CBS.